Teaching Kids About Activism

Kids, even from toddler age, have the power to create change.

Let me start off with a story. When I was little, my favorite thing to eat for breakfast was Teddy Grahams cereal. This was the 80’s so if you remember this cereal I’m sending you a virtual high five!


Now, I loved everything about this cereal. The one problem I had was that this cereal’s claim to fame was that it didn’t get soggy in milk. That frustrated me because MINE GOT SOGGY EVERY TIME. Loved eating it but if you didn’t eat it quick, total mushy grossness. I can’t remember if my parents urged me to do this or not, but after some complaining, I actually wrote a letter to the company letting them know that even though they say it doesn’t get soggy, it did for me.

And you know what? They actually wrote me back! That blew my mind and has clearly stuck with me all these years. I can’t recall the details of what they said but they pretty much agreed with me and sent me coupons for more cereal. Being a kid (I must have been between 6-8), this was my first introduction to using my voice. As a side note, after I received the letter I could no longer find this cereal and for a long time I felt like my letter single handily caused it to be pulled from the shelves. But still, you get my point (hopefully) that with a little encouragement, even a young child can have a voice.

This also applies to legislative matters. You might be thinking, what good can a child do since you can’t vote until your 18? As someone who works in politics, I’ve seen firsthand that even people younger than the voting age can impact the legislative process. Just last year, an 11-year-old girl in Connecticut wrote her legislators because she was upset seeing those “men at work” signs that are used at construction sites. She felt like that was offensive to women because women work in construction too (I agree!). So she lobbied to get the signs changed to read “people at work” and you know what? SHE WON! What an incredible story.

Kids to have a voice. They can impact change. We have the ability to teach them how to be advocates for themselves, for consumers and for the community. If there’s something they don’t like, or even something they do like, let them know they can write a letter/email to a company or an elected official expressing how they feel. It’s empowering for all of us to realize that instead of simply complaining about something, we can put that energy towards actually changing whatever it is that’s bothering us. And if we absolutely love something, it’s great to let that company/person know too.

Kids have so much more power than you might think. Teaching them how to effectively use their voice starting from an early age gives them terrific advocacy skills that they’ll use their entire lives.

Me with my daughter when she was a baby - advocating for removing toxins from children's products. She grabbed the microphone while I was speaking - I guess she wanted to share her voice too :-)
Me with my daughter when she was a baby – advocating for removing toxins from children’s products. She grabbed the microphone while I was speaking – I guess she wanted to share her voice too 🙂

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